£1 = 53 Baht / $1 = 34 Baht
Situated approximately 150km west of Bangkok, Kanchanaburi is a laid-back, linear town nestled in the valley between emerald, mountainous national parks. The town is becoming increasingly popular with foreign visitors due to its richness in history, culture and nature which in recent times has put Kanchanaburi on the travellers bucket list.
We decided to bi-pass central Bangkok by taking a taxi directly from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Bangoks’s South bus terminal Sai Tai Mai. The taxi fair cost us 350 Baht (including toll roads, and the 50 Baht mandatory gratuity). As we were pushed for time we opted to take a cab, but a much more economical way of getting into central Bangkok is to take the Sky Rail which costs 40 Baht per person, and then taking a cab to the bus station which is less distance. Buses run from Said Tai Mai to Kanchanaburi every 20 minutes until 10pm departing from stand 10. The bus costs 110 Baht, but i’ve heard of it being cheaper so if you’re in the mood you might be able to haggle this.
Kanchanaburi is home to the iconic bridge over the river Kwai. The bridge and the ‘Death Railway’ were built by Malaysian, British, American and Indian military who were captured in South East Asia during WW2 by the Japanese. Forced to work in abysmal conditions and crippled by disease and starvation, the operation became a feat for those who survived the ordeal. There are many reminders of this event in history for tourists to visit in Kanchanaburi which I highly recommend incorporating into your stay. To do this I suggest you rent push bicycles (50 Baht for 24 hours) and cycle to the War Cemetery (which is free to the public). Adjacent to the cemetery is the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre (entrance costing 160 Baht which includes a free hot beverage at the end), which offered a comprehensible account of the history of the railway – it’s a part of history that I was totally oblivious to, so I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. After the museum we cycled to the other end of town to the famous bridge. It’s a haunting piece of architecture knowing the suffering involved in its creation, but it’s in an incredibly picturesque location. You can walk across the bridge (free of charge), which is still used on the Bangkok to Nam Tok.
On the second day in Kanchanaburi (and last full day in the town), we headed to Erawan waterfalls. It was probably one of the best experiences I’ve had out of four visits to Thailand. Read my blog post on Erawan Waterfalls by clicking on this link: thetravellingtapir.wordpress.com/erawan-waterfalls.
After the waterfalls we had intended to take public transport to the Hellfire Pass Museum which is highly rated by anyone who visits it, and then return to Kanchanaburi by the Death Railway. Despite the fact that the Hellfire Museum is on the outskirts of the Erawan National Park, we discovered too late that you have to return to Kanchanaburi in order to get to the Hellfire Pass. Due to a lapse in our schedules we regretfully had to give the Death Railway a miss this time – but it’s not the end of the world as hopefully I’ll return to Kanchanaburi in the not so distant future.
As my partner has undergone dental treatment the day before our trip, our eating experiences were restricted to liquidated meals, which as a huge foodie is a rarity! There’s plenty of places to choose from when eating out or having a few bevvys (in fact there are loads of bars to choose from, which surprised me a little seeing as the town is so snoozy). We enjoyed cocktails at Friends Bar, playing pool and being served by a larger-than-life hostess who makes a mean mojito!
Kanchanaburi is definitely a destination that should be on your travel bucket list as it caters to pretty much everyone’s idea of fun: a melting pot of history, culture, relaxation, scenery, nature and partying. Kanchanaburi is a breath of fresh air – literally! It’s a pleasant and easy getaway from Bangkok and easily accessible from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. Make sure you drop if you find yourself in this corner of the world to see what all the fuss is about!